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Half Nelson [2006] [DVD]

Price: £5.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Tina Holmes, Nicole Vicius
  • Directors: Ryan Fleck
  • Format: PAL, Dolby, Anamorphic, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Axiom Films
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Sep 2007
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MX7YFY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,053 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Dan Dunne (Gosling) is an inner city high school teacher. Dynamic and inspirational in the classroom, he spends his time outside of school on the edge of consciousness. His personal disappointments and disillusionment have led to a serious drug habit. Dan juggles his hangovers and his homework, keeping his lives separated, until one of his students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him getting high after school. It is from this pivotal moment that director Ryan Fleck builds a tentative friendship between these two unlikely allies, creating one of the year s most arresting films in the process.


Sometimes people are attracted to each other because of their differences. When there's a nebulous attraction between a teacher and a young teenage child--as in the superb Half Nelson--the relationship has all the makings of confused disaster. Though there are a few uncomfortable moments when it's not obvious whether Dan (Ryan Gosling) and Drey (Shareeka Epps) might cross the line, the attraction between the pair is culled less from sexual tension than desperation. Dan is an idealistic history teacher in an inner-city school. Drey is one of his brightest students.

For both, drugs represent something that may help them escape their worlds. He takes drugs to dull his dissatisfaction with himself. She views drugs as a possible way to better her life, even though she knows her brother's foray into that trade landed him in jail. Bleakly filmed and well told, Half Nelson soars because of the immaculate acting by Gosling and Epps. With his impish smile, Gosling provides a character that is at once disarming, alluring, and pitiful. As the young girl who's already seen too much hardship in her life, Epps plays her part with just the right amount of hardened raw emotion. While the ambiguous ending may not please fans weaned on happy Hollywood finales, it's a fitting and believable close to a thought-provoking film. --Jae-Ha Kim

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. J. Richards on 5 Feb 2008
Format: DVD
Ryan Gosling is exceptional in his role as a teacher at a comprehensive school and gives off raw emotion that at times is not only difficult for the character but the audience watching. He is superb and is an actor to watch for the long-term future.
Despite Gosling's inability to relate to the people that try and get on with him who are not directly involved in his life, he comes across as a simple but effective man but with hidden side-issues on what kind of world he is living in. He gets through any emotive negative within him by being truthful to himself and witty with others.
The film flows smoothly and without any preudice towards generic charachters and the music is unique and fitting. All the supporting players do a great job especially the drug-pimp(probably the nicest dealer portrayed in films) but theres the point of the film, do not take people on face-value or even the things they do to make money or get-by because there is a deeper meaning to what these characters are trying to achieve.
A film i could relate to and i especially like the scene where Gosling gets asked by his 'over-night guest' in the morning "Why do you have a copy of the mien kampf?" and he answers with a slightly cold but reasonable answer of "Just because i have a copy of that book, it doesnt make me a nazi". Theres something odd yet distinctive about the way he looks at life and the surprises with in his own. Its not till the end that Gosling's character realises its time to believe in not just his own thoughts but of those around him...and more importantly kick the habit..because although its an easy to get into and difficult slippery slide to hide your irresponsibilty, its a route that must be declined!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CJR on 4 Oct 2007
Format: DVD
I bought this on the basis of a good magazine review, and i wasn't disappointed. It takes a bit of getting into at first as the style of filming is a bit bizarre and things keep coming in and out of focus; but Ryan Gosling is fantastic as he draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Half Nelson is dark and sad and you find yourself just hoping Drey and Dan can sort their lives out. The ending is kind of up in the air but it doesn't leave you in despair so that's gotta be good! Gosling deserved that Oscar nomination for his superb performance and i for one will definitely be watching this again.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Demob Happy on 22 July 2007
Format: DVD
Half Nelson tells the story of an idealistic young teacher Dan, unable to break his cycle of cocaine and crack abuse. Labouring under the delusion that he will finish an illustrated children's book on 'dialectics', he teaches history at a run-down innercity school. Bringing left-wing theory into his lessons on the civil rights movement, his classes comprise predominately black teenagers from a poor suburb. When he has the sobreity to give them, that is; throughout the film he is increasingly unable to function with any kind of clarity.

Early in the film he is found in a locker room cubicle high on crack by one of his students Drey, and a tacit understanding is reached between them. She, whose brother has been incarcerated from involvement in the drug trade, can see how crack is devestating her community, but is still allured by the success of 'Frank', a drug dealing "family friend". Frank gradually enrolls her in his business; drugs providing her with a potential but probably ephemeral means of escape from the squalor of her broken home. For Dan, the escape is from the burden of completing his book, and from turning his political ideals into affirmative action. His inertia and drug-addled stupour are shown in contrast to footage of highly impassioned speeches from the civil rights movement, calling on people to throw themselves down on the machinery of the system to grind it to a halt. Decades after the civil rights movement, many people in the black community are still caught up in the prison system, or denied opportunities to further themselves socially; but Dan is increasingly aware how little he can do about it. His classes on the dialectics of change through opposition, start to sound hollow when there is so little hope for his students.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. B. Aegerter on 1 Sep 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is beautiful. Gosling is so convincing it is almost difficult to envisage him having a real life outside of his character. He totally captures the dark, elusive, sweetly-sly but fading charisma that goes with the drowning addict. The whole creation is so atmospheric, so tense, so tragic and so bleak, that I almost found the ending unrealistically optimistic (i.e. Dunne is still alive). His descent into addiction hell is so accurately and painfully portrayed, it is difficult to envisage how he could still keep going. There was a horrible poignant reality about the whole thing that should serve as a warning to all young people who think drugs are cool. I don't know how the hell I missed this film when it came out or how the hell Gosling did NOT win an oscar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mister C on 8 April 2010
Format: DVD
Funny and moving, thought-provoking without being preachy, Half Nelson has to be one of the finest independent films of the last decade. Ryan Gosling is, if we're honest, surprisingly excellent as a crack-addicted Brooklyn public-school teacher who strikes up a complex friendship with a young student played by the phenomenal Shareeka Epps. It's unclear throughout whether their friendship is based on attraction, desperation or something else entirely. Although throughly bleak at times, the film ends on an intriguingly ambiguous, oddly uplifting note, although it couldn't be called a happy ending. The film offers a nicely nuanced and ambiguous portrayal of the awkward student-teacher relationship, and does so with a open-mindedness that will appeal to anyone impressed by films like The Woodsman [DVD] [2004]. Half Nelson is an incredibly impressive debut from directors Fleck and Boden, and one that promises great things. Watch it.
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